Pontoon Boats vs. Deck Boats

If you’re looking to invest in a new boat, there are several factors to consider. Many people narrow their options to choosing between a pontoon boat and a deck boat. Which is right for you? Obviously, it depends on what you’re looking for in a boat.

Consider these factors:


In general, a deck boat will be more expensive than a pontoon boat. However, more luxurious pontoon models will begin to approach a similar price point to a deck boat. And, depending on what type of engine you choose for either, that alone could cost up to 50% of the price of the boat itself. Obviously, prices vary among both styles of boats, but in most cases, a deck boat will cost more.

Size and Space

The actual size can be quite similar from a deck boat to a pontoon boat, so if this is your deciding factor, consider the purpose of your boat. Deck boats can usually accommodate up to 12 people, but the more-spacious layout of a pontoon boat can comfortably and safely fit up to 16 people on large models.

Pontoon boats have always been known as one of the best values on the water because of their ability to hold so many people at such an attractive price point.

With deck boats able to entertain up to a dozen people as well, you’ll want to consider what type of space you’re seeking. Most deck boats have all seating facing forward, which is especially nice when cruising at a high speed, whereas pontoons have the flexibility to face any direction, even re-arranging furniture while entertaining friends or family on the lake.

Both types of boat will have a fair amount of storage space, but generally speaking, a pontoon boat will have more.

Hull, Stability, and Ride

The decks of most pontoon boats lay flat across the two pontoons (also known as a multi-hull design), which makes them ideal for socializing. The flat hull keeps the boat steady in the water, both while moving and sitting still.

Deck boats, however, use v-hulls, which cut through the water while moving, allowing deck boats to accelerate more quickly than traditional pontoons. A pontoon boat trying to reach the same speed as a deck boat will require more fuel to do so; however, pontoons are much more fuel-efficient overall.

The downside of the fiberglass v-hull comes from its central axis, which leads the boat to rock with wind, waves, or movement of the passengers on the boat.

You no longer have to choose one or the other, though. Manitou’s V-Toon Technology, available on many of our models, mimics a traditional v-hull in shape while maintaining the stability of traditional pontoons.

Generally speaking, because of the different types of hulls, deck boats are better for slicing through the water, but pontoon boats keep you steady, whether you’re in motion or not.


With the recent increases in power on pontoon boats (again, depending on the type of engine you select), the disparities between what you can do on a deck boat as compared to a pontoon boat are shrinking, especially when you consider V-Toon performance.

For instance, a pontoon with a 150-horsepower engine is plenty for tubing or water skiing; however, it’s worth noting that if you’re an experienced tuber or skier, you may not catch as much air as you’d like. Deck boats are still superior in that respect, as they slice through the water and give you some wake to navigate.

If your water sport of choice is fishing, a pontoon boat is the way to go. Not that you can’t fish from a deck boat, but the stable platform and additional room on a pontoon boat will definitely be to your advantage as you try to reel in tonight’s dinner.


As with any watercraft, it’s essential to keep your boat clean and in working order. This requires effort on both deck and pontoon boats, but the difference here is most noticeable on the hulls. The aluminum pontoons are far easier to clean and maintain than the fiberglass hull of a deck boat, which needs to be wiped down after every day spent on the water. If you don’t wipe the gelcoat meticulously, water spots become ridiculously difficult to remove later.

Which is Right for You?

Pontoon boats remain the best value on the water and continue to advance, both in style and power, without losing the essential wide-open spaces perfect for entertaining socializing. Deck boats give you a little less space for socializing, but in many cases will move you through the water faster, even if you have to sacrifice a little stability and keep up a meticulous maintenance regimen. And if you find yourself wanting the best of both worlds, explore Manitou’s performance pontoons.

Can a Pontoon Boat Be Used in the Ocean?

Manitou Pontoons X-Plode XT

Pontoon boats are ideal for inland lakes and rivers, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fit for ocean waters. In fact, they’re often used on the ocean, though generally close to shore and in inter-coastal areas such as bays and inlets.

A pontoon’s seaworthiness and safety on the ocean depends on the boat’s size, performance, and construction. Is it built to withstand the harsher conditions of salt water?

As the performance and handling of pontoons and tritoons continues to improve, people are starting to venture farther out. In addition to the quality of the boat, how far to go away from shore is up to the captain’s discretion and depends on the weather conditions. The captain should take into account how quickly they can navigate back to the marina or harbor if bad weather were to arise. (With dual engine models, this can be done pretty quickly).

Another brand took their pontoon boat from Florida to Cuba last year, and we do not recommend nor promote this as something you should do with a pontoon. We often say that on calm days, you can be safe within a couple miles of shore.

Construction and Performance Considerations

With larger bodies of water can come big waves, but the right construction makes a difference. While the greater stability that comes with a triple-hull pontoon can help, larger tubes – at least 25” in diameter – are also recommended for venturing onto bigger waters.

The pontoon tube thickness should also be considered for boating in ocean conditions, as in the sheet aluminum used to make the tubes. We make some of the thickest pontoons in the industry, beginning at a minimum of .090”

Having adequate horsepower to overcome waves when you need to is also important. The larger the better here, with 150 HP being the bare minimum we’d recommend for traveling any distance away from shore on a pontoon.

Protect Your Investment

Aluminum pontoons will react to salt water by corroding. Before going out on the ocean, extra care should be taken to protect the boat, including coating the tubes with an anti-fouling bottom paint. Equally as important is rinsing the hull thoroughly in fresh water after it has been exposed to salt water.

Finally, before you decide to take your pontoon boat out into brackish or sea water, be aware of the terms of the pontoon boat manufacturer‘s warranty. It may not protect your boat from corrosion due to salt water.

Manitou Receives 17th Consecutive NMMA CSI Award for Customer Satisfaction

Lansing, Michigan – Manitou Pontoon Boats is delighted to announce that they are once again a recipient of a Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Award from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) for exceptional customer service. The 2017 Marine Industry CSI Award in the Pontoon Boats category marks the 17th consecutive CSI awarded to Manitou Pontoon Boats. This makes it every year since the awards inception.

The NMMA, the nation’s leading boating trade association, represents a wide range of businesses in the marine industry. They recognize manufacturers that actively monitor and measure customer satisfaction levels and then take actions to further improve customer satisfaction. The CSI Awards only recognize boating manufacturers that maintain an independently measured standard of excellence of 90 percent or higher in customer satisfaction.

“Receiving the 17th consecutive award is an honor. We have built pontoon boats for over 30 years now; we would not be able to say that without happy customers. The CSI program allows us to monitor our product satisfaction in near real time which is invaluable to improvement” said Scott VanWagenen, President of Manitou Boats.

Manitou understands that connecting with its customers to identify their personal needs on their pontoon boats is essential to providing them with the best customer service experience possible. We use this information to more accurately grade a customer’s opinion of their new pontoon boat, and to improve customer satisfaction moving forward.


Do Pontoon Boats Need Bottom Paint?

Bottom paint (also called antifouling paint) is one of many recommendations for maintaining recreational and commercial boats. So do pontoon boats need it? The short answer: It depends on where and how you use the pontoon.

In Freshwater:

Pontoons that are moored in freshwater for the season will benefit from bottom painting. Without it, the hull is susceptible to algae buildup, which can inhibit the boat’s speed and performance over time.

For pontoons moored in freshwater for shorter spans, or stored on a lift, trailer, or in dry storage between freshwater uses, bottom paint is not necessary as long as the pontoons are pressure washed thoroughly after each trip to remove any potential hitchhikers.

In Saltwater:

If the pontoon will be used in seawater or in brackish water like estuaries, bottom paint is absolutely necessary to protect the aluminum pontoons from corrosion below the waterline.

How Bottom Paint Works

When bottom paint is applied to a boat’s hull, it discourages salt, algae, barnacles, and other aquatic organisms from attaching to the surface. The paint includes a biocide as the “active ingredient,” which intentionally wears off over time and through activity in the water, thereby keeping organisms and deposits from collecting on the hull over time.

Once bottom paint has been applied to a boat, it must be maintained and reapplied as recommended by the manufacturer to keep the pontoons protected.

Antifouling Paint for Aluminum Pontoons

Different antifouling paints are recommended for saltwater and freshwater, and for various types of boats. Whether you apply it yourself or have your dealer or a boat service technician do the work, make sure that only paint created specifically for aluminum hulls is used.

Many bottom paints contain a copper oxide, but pontoon owners should avoid these. Unlike metals do not react well with each other, and a bottom paint that contains copper will end up eating away at the aluminum – similar to how salt would pit or corrode the hull over time if it hadn’t been protected in the first place. An alternative to copper is a metal-free biocide called Econea. 

Protect your investment from the hull up with a bottom paint that’s designed specifically for pontoons.

Source: Top Ten Antifouling Paint Buying Questions from West Marine

Building a Legacy

Manitou’s flagship model is destined to become a modern classic.


Manitou is one of the builders that has made twin-outboard pontoons more mainstream than anyone would have imagined a few years ago, which makes sense given the pontoon’s similarities to catamaran hulls that often have twins. Unlike twin-outboard monohulls that have their motors close together on the transom, the 25 Legacy LT has its twin engines placed far apart on the outer pontoons, making those horsepower more useful than just for propulsion. Spreading the engines far apart helps with maneuverability at speed and around the dock, but it also opens up the center for getting in and out of the water using the stout stainless steel boarding ladder with swimming pool–style grabrails.

The setup allows the swim platform to be pushed far back in the middle, because there’s no engine there, delivering more real estate exactly where it’s needed. Manitou cleverly solved the riddle of how to integrate the ski tow and the ladder in the same location. It made the standard stainless steel ski tow large enough that any passenger can board and enter the water within its perimeter, a configuration that also keeps the tow line from chafing the engine cowlings, even during the hardest skier cut.

Eschewing the ubiquitous aluminum fencing/rail exterior used on most pontoons, Manitou uses an all-fiberglass exoskeleton to give the boat a bold look and an intricate molded shape that aluminum-clad pontoons can’t achieve. While Manitou offers some of the industry’s boldest color choices, such as the metallic lime green model we tested last year, the top-of-the-line Legacy LT takes a different approach. The four color choices for the center panel are more conservative, as are the four different color choices for the surrounding fiberglass. For a little extra panache, buyers have a choice of four colors for the powder-coated rubrail and its stainless steel protector.

The model I tested took the current hot trend of gray to the extreme, incorporating a two-tone automotive paint job on the exterior that was a perfect match with its Yamahas. Inside, the upholstery was dark and light gray with black piping. It exuded classiness. The bow entry gate is cut from one piece of billet aluminum and was powder-coated to match the boat’s color scheme. It’s heavy, so Manitou wisely designed it to lock into place, whether open or closed, for extra security.


Manitou will rig its boats with any outboard brand, a smart move to satisfy customer preference that’s made even smarter by the fact that in certain areas of the country buyers might only have one outstanding dealer nearby. The dual-engine options on this boat range from 150s all to way to Mercury Racing’s new 400R, but the cost for the alpha dog package — the Mercury XL Carbon Edition with twin 400R outboards — is an additional $101,475.

Our test boat featured Yamaha F300s, which add $66,075 to the base price of $92K. Buyers can take the Yamaha option all the way to a pair of F350 V-8s, but the additional 402 pounds, not to mention the extra $16,275, make the F300s the Yamaha sweet spot. The acceleration was breathtaking, giving the 25 Legacy LT a time to plane of 2.1 seconds and a time to 30 mph of four seconds flat — one of the quickest times we recorded during testing for 2018, regardless of boat type. Top speed was an un-pontoon-like 63.3 mph.


Wisely, Manitou offers only one tube configuration for the Legacy LT, and that’s its industry-changing SHP (Sport Handling Package): twin 25-inch logs on the outside and an oversized 27-inch center tube that’s been dropped so it’s 5¼ inches lower than the outer tubes. The arrangement results in a pontoon that mimics a V-hull and leans in noticeably during hard turns — despite having positive-angle lifting strakes on both sides of all tubes, which we’ve learned tend to “push back” in hard corners and normally result in a flat cornering attitude. Despite being nearly 27 feet long and weighing 4,310 pounds, the 25 Legacy LT was very nimble and stayed hooked up even when I turned the wheel all the way to it stops.

The 25 Legacy LT is a good choice for boaters who live on large bodies of water and need the buoyancy the big center tube and six lifting strakes generate. The tubes are tipped with what Manitou calls Barracuda nosecones. Saber-sharp and reinforced, they effortlessly cleave through larger waves.

Twin engines make docking easier, especially when they are spread as far apart as they are on the Manitou. Our test boat took it to the next level with joystick docking, though it’s the only Yamaha-powered joystick boat I’ve seen that didn’t use the Helm Master system. Instead, Manitou offers SeaStar Solutions’ Optimus 360 system ($16,250), which worked very well. With it, drivers can walk the pontoon sideways. Remember, though, to let go of the joystick control before reaching the dock, because the outboards can reach outside the protection of the pontoons and get their cowling dinged.


Our test boat was fully rigged for watersports, including an optional Sport Arch ($10,000) that was color-matched to the exterior and had a Bimini top, a ski tow — combined they give the Legacy LT two tow points than can handle any watersport — and an optional in-floor locker set deep into the 27-inch center tube ($1,500). The boat had an optional forward Bimini ($1,100). A pop-up privacy booth was set into the port bow recliner.

To enhance the entertainment factor, the 25 Legacy LT might have one of the best standard stereos I’ve ever seen: an 800-watt JL Audio system with a subwoofer and six lighted speakers, including two on the transom that fire rearward, for some tunes while swimming. The only stereo option is a pair of coffee cans on the Sport Arch that cost $1,875.


The 25 Legacy LT features quad loungers with fiberglass frames that continue the overall theme. The two in the stern are slightly shorter. Perhaps the best option on the boat is the upgrade to a companion bucket seat called Aqua Lounger that includes a kick-out footrest ($250). Standard features abound, so buyers won’t have to check very many boxes on the options list. At the helm, there’s both a standard Simrad Evo 3 smart screen and a seven-inch Murphy display that allows the driver to control any of the boat’s systems. Our test boat had the optional Yamaha CL seven-inch smart screen ($550), which replaced the Simrad unit. Manitou offers a choice of beige or gray vinyl flooring as standard, but 13 options range from $1,250 to $1,300.

The standard 25 Legacy LT is well lit with both interior and exterior lights, and items such as speakers and cupholders glow blue. For refreshments, Manitou offers several custom cooler options, including an Orion 45 Super Cooler ($561) that has a Manitou-logoed top pad or a more modestly priced soft-side carryon ($63). For on-the-water dining, grab the Magma grill option for $388.

owner feedback

Purchased by Steve and Marilynn Myers, Denver, N.C.
Purchased at Foothills Marina, Mooresville, N.C.


Fit and finish/Attractive styling/Rough-water handling/Turning ability/900-watt stereo/Power Bimini top


I would like to have gone with the twin-engine option but my budget ran out at one 250 hp outboard.


We have had the same Correct Craft ski boat since 1980 and a twin-tube Sweetwater pontoon we bought in 1994. We had no intention of buying another boat until we went to the Charlotte Boat Show and fell in love with the Manitou Legacy. We loved its styling and realized it could replace our two older boats. We live on Lake Norman, which is large, and visiting someone across the lake could take an hour on our old pontoon and we worried about weather kicking up. With the Manitou, we can make it in 25 minutes. We were tempted by the twin-engine version, but the Yamaha VMAX SHO 250 pushes it really well. On our first trip, we had 11 people on board and one of our guests wanted to go slalom skiing; we were surprised when he got up easily. We have four grown kids and a 5-year-old grandson, and they like to go sightseeing, tubing and skiing. The buying process at Foothills Marina was great. I told them what features I wanted and what I wanted to do with the boat, and they made sure it was properly equipped. After the sale, they went to great lengths to make sure my


Lakeland Boating “This isn’t your grandpa’s pontoon boat”

For many people, pontoon boats are associated with Grandpa’s old ‘toon idling lazily around the lake with the grandkids fishing off the side. Early pontoons were not fast enough for watersports and had few of the modern conveniences that cuddy cabins and bowriders could provide.

In the late 1980s, manufacturers like Manitou Pontoons from Lansing, Michigan saw the potential of a faster pontoon boat and started designing models that could handle bigger engines. When 115-hp outboards appeared on the back of pontoons, customers that once said they would never get a pontoon took a second look.

Triple threat
The addition of a third tube to pontoon designs increased structural stability and buoyancy, and opened the door to even heavier, higher-horsepower engines. The increase in power allowed pontoons to pull skiers and tubers, and created a boat that was more appealing and versatile.

The 2018 Manitou X-Plode XT is a shining example of pontoon potential. With the X-Plode, Manitou set out to change the pontoon stereotype of a party barge into that of a fast, colorful, full-featured sportboat that could outperform many of its V-hulled cousins. The Manitou X-Plode XT accomplishes that mission with style and ease, while carrying more passengers, too.

A 70 mph pontoon?
When someone invites you to go for a ride on their shiny new pontoon boat, the last thing you expect to need is a pair of goggles. But goggles were the one thing I was missing
when I met Greg and Tim from Manitou Pontoons at Duck Lake — about 20 miles south of Lansing, Michigan — to go for an afternoon cruise.

Manitou has built pontoon boats at their headquarters in Lansing for more than 30 years. They use Duck Lake for testing because it has a clean, predictable bottom free of prop-eating obstructions and submerged surprises that might create an unpleasant situation if struck at 70 mph.

Yes, that’s correct. Seventy mph. Seven, zero. And yes, on a pontoon boat.

Sitting at the dock, the 27-foot X-Plode XT looks like it’s straining at the lines. The boat comes in several color combinations, including more tame options like black or white. Customers who want to stand out from the crowd can choose a bright orange or electric lime green X-Plode.

Manitou works closely with several outboard manufacturers to ensure their engines are installed to the highest factory specifications and to offer their customers power options that best fit their needs. Our test boat featured twin Mercury 400-hp engines, but twin 300s are the most popular choice for the X-Plode series. Customers can also choose from smaller
or single engine configurations.

Manitou takes their manufacturing standards to the extreme. With finished storage compartments, built-in seating hardware, one-piece aluminum safety doors, and engine mounts built to withstand the power and weight of twin outboards, Manitou’s workmanship, fit and finish are exemplary.

The Manitou X-Plode XT is offered in several floorplans, including the new-for-2018 27-foot RFX layout. All of the structures from the deck up are fiberglass. Vinyl seating and non-skid vinyl decks with snap-down covers resist stains and damage, making the entire boat easy to clean with a boat brush and a hose.

Felt-lined storage compartments are hidden underneath the seats, and a hatch in the floor allows access to the interior of the center tube. This 6-foot storage space is great for
stashing longer items like skis or covers, and also includes an automatic bilge pump to ensure the contents stay dry.

Loud and proud
Creature comforts such as LED accents in the cupholders, around seat bases and on the sport arch are just plain cool. JL Audio is a standard feature with an amp, a subwoofer and LED-lit speakers throughout the boat. A color-matched Bimini and mooring cover are also included. A pop-up privacy station allows guests to change out of wet swimsuits before dining at the standard aft table.
Electronic options from Manitou’s engine partners are a nice touch. Systems such as Mercury’s joystick controls and VesselView provide engine feedback and precise handling in tight
spaces. Manitou’s own Smart Touch screen gives the captain control over lighting, entertainment and navigation features.

Manitou recognized the benefits of the third pontoon early on. Structural integrity is improved with the extra tube, but Manitou went a step further and created a patented
V-Toon design. The result is a faster, better handling pontoon boat.

With precise placement of the third tube and the addition of scientifically designed lifting strakes, Manitou has create a pontoon hull profile that mimics a V-bottomed boat. The
design climbs up on plane with minimal bow lift, rides softer and more stable in rough water, and takes a hard turn with the same control and feel as a V-hull.

With Tim at the wheel and Greg up front, we went for a ride down the lake. I didn’t really know what to expect from a 70 mph pontoon boat. As we began to climb in speed, I was very glad I remembered what it was like to fly across open water and had taken off my glasses before they were ripped from my face.

When we hit just under 70 mph carrying three big guys and a full gas tank, I understood why a dog hangs out of a car window with his cheeks flapping. I had to fight the urge
to grin like a cartoon character and let my tongue hang out.

Turning back, I was really impressed by the stable feel as the boat leaned into turns like a V-hull. We climbed back up to full speed again before criss-crossing our own wake and
that of another boat. The ride was always dry and smooth.

Best of both worlds
The Manitou X-Plode XT is difficult to label. It’s a hard-charging, smooth-riding dayboat that reminds you it’s a pontoon when 15 people can find comfortable seats. With the sport arch, it could be mistaken for a ski boat and easily tows adult wakeboarders and tubers. The best classification I could come up with is “high-speed aquatic entertainment platform.”

We ran the X-Plode XT back toward the dock, then stopped and idled up the lake for a while so we could talk. As I tried to think of any last questions or clarification I might need, we all grew quiet, enjoying the fall air and beautiful view. After riding in silence for a few minutes, I turned to Tim, and with a silly grin I said, “Do it again.”

Tim’s grin matched mine as he leaned forward and pressed his glasses securely onto his face. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Greg grab one of the handrails as the twin Mercury 400s
started to wind up, and we tore off down the lake like a rocket.

One thing is certain: This is not your grandpa’s
pontoon boat!

Tritoon vs. Pontoon – What’s the Difference?

Pontoon boats have evolved over time to become a serious choice for people in the market for a powerboat. The various styles, models, and constructions available today offer versatility to match the needs of any recreational boater.

Besides the size of the boat itself, one of the biggest differentiators for today’s pontoons is the number of tubes making up the boat’s hull. So, are you wanting a pontoon or a tritoon?

Manitou Aurora Pontoon and Manitou X-Plode Tritoon
Featured: Manitou Aurora pontoon and Manitou X-Plode tritoon

What is a tritoon?

A tritoon is a triple-hull pontoon boat. Instead of having two large aluminum tubes beneath the deck, a tritoon has a third tube in the center that distributes weight even more evenly over the water. This added stability and structure also means the boat can handle more horsepower than a typical double-hull pontoon boat. [Read about our patented V-Toon technology.]

What Are You Looking For in a Boat?

If you’re trying to decide between purchasing a pontoon or a tritoon, how and where you plan to use the boat will help you decide which will be a better fit.

Desired Activity

Many consumers will want a multipurpose boat that can match a variety of lifestyles.

If all you want from a boat is a relaxing cruise on a calm lake, a twin-tube might be all you need. If you’re looking for a stylish and stable fishing boat, both pontoons and tritoons can be optimally outfitted for anglers of all ages and levels.

If you want to reach more thrilling max speeds, or your time on the water will include pulling skiers or tubers, the choice is pretty clear. A two-tube pontoon can handle some horsepower, but adding a third tube allows for more engine, higher speeds, and more exciting options for activity on the water.

Budget vs. Desired Experience

Anyone who has experienced the difference will tell you that cost is really the only reason to go with two tubes over three. Three-tube models will come with a greater price tag, but along with that comes more stability, a smoother ride, higher cruising speeds when you want them – all underscoring a more delightful experience for everyone on board.

If you are looking for a boat to use primarily on very small bodies of water, you may not see the benefit of owning a tritoon. However, in any situation where you might contend with wind, rough water, and wakes, consider the value of the tritoon’s enhanced ride.

Think of it this way: The third tube gives you better control on the water. Instead of the water being in charge with a twin-tube pontoon, the captain is in charge on a tritoon.

For the boater who does a little of everything, a performance tritoon is well worth the investment.

Review our pontoon and tritoon models to compare the differences for yourself, or see what you can create by building your own Manitou!

How Well Do Pontoon Boats Handle Rough Water?

Generally speaking, pontoons can handle much better in choppy water than other recreational boats since they have at least two hulls, providing more stability to the boat than one hull could. If a pontoon (with two ‘toons) is more stable than a monohull, imagine how much better a tritoon’s third tube can make it!

Of course, while a pontoon boat itself is generally safe, a little common sense goes a long way on the water. Besides ignoring common sense, what can get you in trouble on a pontoon is not knowing how to handle the boat when the water gets rough.

Pontoon boats and rough water

Can a Pontoon Flip Over?

Sure, it’s possible to flip your pontoon. It certainly has happened. But it’s highly unlikely if you’re being responsible. While forces of nature cannot be controlled, there are steps you can take as a boat owner and captain to make sure you reduce the chance of these types of accidents on the water.

Here are a couple factors to keep in mind:

Keep an even load on board. This applies to cargo loads, as well as loads of passengers. Consider how weight distribution can contribute to safety on choppy waters. Make sure your passengers know the importance of maintaining balance on board, especially in rough conditions. Keep in mind that any modifications you make to the boat can also affect its balance or center of gravity. For this reason, “Double decker” pontoon boats with a second level, while they offer additional options for fun on the water, are much more prone to tipping.

The bigger the boat, the more weight the elements have to contend with, and the larger the pontoons, the greater the boat’s stability. If your pontoon is on the smaller side, you’ll want to make sure conditions are safe before going out on the water.

Keeping Your Pontoon Stable in Rough Waters

To keep your pontoon safe in rough waters, the key of course is to keep the pontoons above the water and avoid the risk of burying the nosecones. If you’re cruising straight into big waves, and you slow down before hitting a trough, chances are you’re going to dip the pontoon’s nose below water and will take some of that water on board when it crashes over the bow. Depending on the force of the waves, this can cause damage to the pontoon’s playpen, which can cost a considerable amount to fix. Rather than slowing down when riding into the waves, trim up just before hitting the wave. This will help lift the boat’s bow more.

Adjust your course so you’re riding properly into the waves. When possible, rather than riding head-on into the waves, cruise so the waves are at a 30 to 45 degree angle from the center of the boat. Taking the waves at an angle will allow you to keep your bow high more consistently. At this angle, one of the tubes will also ride high, allowing the boat to glide into and out of the waves’ crests and troughs more smoothly. There is still potential to dip the corner of the boat, however.

It is possible to get a special handling package on your boat to handle the elements better. For instance, our Sports Handling Package (SHP) allows higher horsepower and includes power assisted steering, positive angle lifting strakes, and barracuda nosecones, all of which are better for handling rough waters. Underskinning can also help reduce drag from water splashing up beneath the boat.

Watch the Weather and the Water

This is obvious, but you should always check weather and marine forecasts before going out on the boat. When you are on the water, keep an eye on the skies and look for any changes in the water. If conditions start to turn, it’s always better to prioritize safety over pushing for a little more time on the lake.

Pontoon or Fishing Boat: Why Choose One or the Other?

One of the first questions to ask before buying a new boat is, “What will I use it for the most?”

It can be tough to narrow it down to only one activity. But if you’re looking for a good boat for fishing trips and a comfortable family boat with room for relaxing or entertaining, you don’t have to be torn on which of these to prioritize. With the many fishing pontoons on the market, the dilemma of fishing boat vs. pontoon can be easily solved. Why not get one boat that offers the best of both worlds, and perhaps even more?


Oasis Angler – Manitou Fishing Pontoon Boat
Manitou Oasis Angler VP

Fishing Pontoons: The Best of Both Worlds

Pontoons provide a spacious and safe fishing experience thanks to the wide deck and the stability created by the twin-tube hull. A pontoon’s stability and shallow draft also means you won’t lose your balance moving around to fish from a different spot on the deck – so you won’t scare fish as easily as you would in boats that tend to rock. For all of these reasons, pontoons can be great for teaching kids how to fish.

With the right boat, a morning of fishing will easily transition into a day of relaxation – or active recreation – with family and friends. Pontoons make it easy to create a living room vibe on the water. The stability, deck size, and comfy furniture create a safe and family-friendly atmosphere for kids who might get antsy in close quarters. Depending on the boat’s size and layout, guests will have plenty of space to relax on cozy couches and lounge seats.

Whether you’re fishing or cruising, the pontoon’s bimini cover will provide welcome shade on sunny days.

Pontoon Fishing Boat Setup

Pontoons are also great fishing boats because they have ample room for stowing your gear and customizing a setup for your optimal fishing excursion. Many run-of-the-mill pontoons can be adapted for your preferred fishing setup, but angler pontoons have these essential features built in, or easily added on:

  • Livewell
  • Two or four-corner fishing seats
  • Fishing rod holders
  • Cooler
  • Depthfinder
  • Fishfinder


Manitou Fishing Pontoon Vertical Rod Holder
Vertical Rod Holder on the Encore Pro Angler

Pontoon Fishing Boat Layouts

If your idea of a fishing pontoon is a small square deck on barrels, allow us to blow your mind. Depending on what you plan for your boat’s primary use, you can prioritize seating for entertaining or for maximum fishing capacity.

Our fishing pontoon models (Aurora Angler, Oasis Angler, and Encore Pro Angler) have two roomy layouts to choose from: Standard (four-point fishing) and Full Front (two-point fishing). The best layout for you will depend on how you’ll use the boat most, and whether you’ll do mostly solo fishing or prefer to bring a group.

Manitou Pontoon - Oasis Angler Fishing Boat Floor Plans

Not Your Typical Fishing Pontoon

Pontoons have a reputation for not handling well in choppy waters, but we’ve addressed that with our patented V-Toon hull. Our luxury tritoon fishing boats include a third tube that increases stability and mimics a v-shaped hull. Whether on two tubes or three, add the right horsepower and you’ll have a high speed pontoon – so when you’re not fishing, you can enjoy a thrilling day of cruising and watersports.

Worried too much engine could scare away your potential catch? You might opt to add an electric trolling motor to the front so you can make a quieter approach. Our angler models include the option of a half door and a trolling motor outlet. (Browse fishing pontoon optional features.)

Manitou Tritoon – Encore Pro Angler Fishing Pontoon
Manitou Tritoon 24 Encore Pro Angler VP

Not all fishing pontoons are made equal, and not all pontoons have the best layout for entertaining. Whether you’re a diehard angler or a family weekend fisher, Manitou’s angler pontoons offer an optimal experience for versatile boaters.


Taking a Pontoon Boat to a Powerboat Poker Run

The following story and accompanying photos were contributed by Gary Baldwin at Lakeview Marina, a Manitou dealer in Noblesville, Indiana. Gary brought a Manitou X-Plode tritoon to the 11th annual Lake Cumberland Poker Run, a large powerboat poker run, the weekend of September 8-10, 2017. Read on for his thoughts on bringing a pontoon to run with powerboats. Thanks for sharing your experience, Gary!

Manitou X-Plode Pontoon with Baja Outlaw at Lake Cumberland Poker Run

I work part time as a salesman at Lakeview Marina in Noblesville, Indiana. Being retired and a boat nut, the job gives me the opportunity to enjoy boating more than I normally could. Yes, I have a lake house, and yes, we have multiple boats – but of course if you are a boat nut, the more boats you get to enjoy the better.

The boats I’ve had and have are small and slow compared to what I would be up against on this particular weekend at Lake Cumberland. My home lake is Lake Freeman in Monticello, Indiana, and like on most small lakes, 95 percent of the boats are under 26 feet. Very few can exceed 50 mph. So I knew this would be a challenge.

Why bring a pontoon to this poker run?

Lakeview Marina has a history with performance boats, with many friends in the powerboating industry. As a sponsor for this year’s Lake Cumberland Poker Run, and not having a larger powerboat in stock (I sold it), we decided – with owner Jeff Lingenfelter’s nervous blessing – to take a Manitou pontoon boat. This was not your typical pontoon, but a 25 foot dual outboard with 600 HP. This would be my first time taking any boat to a powerboat poker run. I was given the opportunity to run with many 1000 HP boats, quite a few bigger boats with 2000 HP, and just for the thrill of it, seeing boats with over 3000 HP thunder across the water at well over 100 mph. The challenge for the weekend was not to keep up with these guys, but to keep myself and my passengers SAFE in the wakes of mega power and heavy cruisers on a big lake.

The pontoon is a 2017 Manitou X-Plode SWR SHP, 25 feet long with two Evinrude 300 HP G2 outboards, sport arch, joystick assist steering, and a nice big stereo. A very impressive pontoon for the small lakes in Indiana I’m accustomed to boating on. In the weeks leading up to the poker run, I was warned many times about how big and rough the event would be, how crowded it would be in many areas of the lake, and DON’T run into multi-million-dollar boats!

[Build your own pontoon boat]

Challenge #1: Maneuvering the Pontoon in Tight Spaces

The Manitou X-Plode and its joystick assist steering coupled to the Evinrude outboards was such a joy. Maneuvering a pontoon on a windy day in tight spaces can be a challenge for even the most experienced pilot. Entering a marina, I would push the Command button to engage the joystick and place the pontoon where I wanted, never having to touch the steering wheel or the two shift handles. Our slip was partially blocked by a very big Fountain powerboat, and beside us were two very expensive show boats. The paint jobs on these boats likely exceeded the cost of our pontoon. More than once, I backed the Manitou pontoon into the slip, past the beak of the Fountain and beside the two other show boats.

Getting Gas at Lake Cumberland Poker Run

Getting gas in a crowded marina on a busy Saturday morning was a typical task made more difficult by windy and tight conditions. I held the Manitou pontoon inline in a cross breeze, and once it was our turn to get gas, I used the joystick to spin the boat counterclockwise about 60 degrees on its center to get parallel with the dock. Then I moved the boat backwards and to the right while staying parallel to the dock to get gas. Getting out of the marina with other boats struggling to maintain “No Wake” and keep thousands of horsepower under control was a predicament. I would side shift out of line and let them pass, shifting back in line once they passed and gave us the thumbs up. This happened many times during the weekend.

Lake Cumberland Poker Run

On Friday afternoon, when parking at another marina to get food, my choice was either a long walk or once again docking between two boats costing many times more than our pontoon – and it was an easy choice. I went straight to the space, spun 90 degrees, and side shifted into the space. This was not as hard as the maneuvering to get gas, as there was no wind involved, but it’s still something you could not do without the joystick assist.

Challenge #2: Running at Speed with a 600 HP Pontoon Boat

Lakeview Marina also took a 2017 Baja 23-foot Outlaw powerboat to the poker run. This is a great small powerboat, and pilot Jeff Lingenfelter Jr. showed many just how rugged these boats are.

Manitou Pontoon Boat at 2017 Lake Cumberland Poker Run

On Friday, we spent most of the day running together. Running with a professional I could trust on my first day at such an event help me get accustomed to running long distances at speed in rough conditions. The Manitou with 600 HP and a V-Toon hull easily kept up with him and many other cruisers and hot boats, running up to and a little over 60 mph. In the Manitou pontoon with the Evinrude G2 outboards, I would hit the Sync button and use one shifter to control both outboards.

[How fast is a pontoon boat?]

We spent much of the day running in the range of 50 to 60 mph. Loaded with gas and coolers, we exceeded 60 mph on clear water many times. In a heavy chop, I would do as the powerboats do, trim down, and the V-Toon hull cut the swells down for a better ride. As the swells cleared, I would trim up and enjoy the ride. I’ve ridden on many a pontoon, and this is the only one I’ve driven that reacts to trim in such a positive way.

Manitou X-Plode running with powerboats at the Lake Cumberland Poker Run
The four boats in our group just after launch.

Many of the boats we passed could exceed 90 mph on good water, so it was fun to see them catching air and a pounding trying to keep up with Grandpa in a pontoon boat that weekend. We did get a “thumbs up” from many – just not the ones holding on with both hands trying to keep up.

Challenge #3: Keeping My Passengers Safe

Manitou pontoon boats are built differently than any other pontoon. There are too many build details to go into here, but the enjoyment they give is what counts. On Saturday, with many more boats and winds getting stronger as the day went on, I put the pontoon through its biggest test all day long. Late Saturday afternoon, we were exiting the party cove with a flotilla of boats of every size.

Manitou X-Plode Pontoon in Party Cove at Lake Cumberland Poker Run
I was amazed how many people stopped to talk about the X-Plode with the likes of the boats around us. I stayed onboard most of the time to discuss its features and performance.

Lake Cumberland Poker Run

We had miles to cover in the worst of conditions. Houseboats, cruisers, power cats, and deep v racing boats were making waves, with troughs as deep as 5 feet coming from all directions. The wind was not letting the lake settle down. With the cruisers rocking and rolling at speed, and the hot boats catching air as they crested the waves, this was not the place for the average pontoons to be. This is not the place to be crazy. This water will roll boats over, swamp your average runabout, and break anything that is weak.

I again put the trim down and used the responsiveness of the Evinrude G2 outboards to keep my passengers safe. I used the throttle to quickly change the attitude of the boat. The Evinrude G2 motors are two-stroke motors, and they respond so much faster than your typical four-stroke outboards. The Manitou V-Toon hull helped make the ride more comfortable, and coupled with the fast steering of the dual outboards, I was able to get across the bad to the little bit of good water there was. Through a lot of this, we were running 25 to 30 mph, above most boats less than 30 feet long.

I kept setting my sights on the next large boat. Watching them rock and roll, rise and fall, I would know what to expect and what to do to make the best of a dangerous crossing. Passing the last large cruiser just before entering the marina no wake zone, again we were greeted with thumbs up.

Powerboat Poker Runs: Not for the Average Pontoon Boat

So, should you take a pontoon to a powerboat poker run? I would not suggest it for the normal pontoon owner. These events create extreme conditions. You have to have great situational awareness. Running at 60 mph in a pontoon seems fast until you get passed by a boat doing 150 mph. Relax at the wrong time, and bad things can happen – and not just for you.

Manitou X-Plode pontoon in its slip at the Lake Cumberland Poker Run

Would I do this poker run in any other brand of pontoon? The answer is NO. I’ve driven many different brands and know how they are built. I have trusted the Manitou pontoons in all types of conditions on our small lakes. I know they are strong and will take care of you and your passengers in rough conditions, even if you don’t know how to run through rough water. During the weekend at the Cumberland Lake Power Run, I ran this Manitou X-Plode through the worst. Now I know it is stronger than I ever thought. I pushed it at times, well above what I would do on a normal busy day on our Indiana lakes. It never flexed, as I’ve had other brands do. It never rattled or squeaked. It never submarined the nose in the worst waves on Saturday, even with all seats occupied, coolers filled, and plenty of gas on board. And I never felt like I was putting my friends or other boaters in peril.

Would I do it again in a performance pontoon? A big THUMBS UP.

Maybe next year I can do it with 800 HP.

Thank you, Lakeview Marina. Thank you, friends, for riding along. Thank you and a big THUMBS UP to Manitou for building a great pontoon.